NEW YORK – A hospital on Long Island says only about 200 people have signed up for free blood tests, after it warned 4,247 patients about potential exposure to HIV and hepatitis.
South Nassau Communities Hospital sent out letters to patients who received insulin, due to possible blood contamination related to the use of an insulin pen.
Hospital officials say they are working with the health department and that the risk of infection is low, but insulin recipients may have received it from an insulin pen reservoir that could have been used with more than one person.
“Insulin pens are injector devices with a built-in insulin reservoir designed to be used multiple times, but for one person,” Eyewitness News Dr. Sapna Parikh said. “Insulin pens should never be used in more than one person because with each injection, there’s a small risk a small amount of blood can go backwards into the cartridge, creating a risk the next time.”
The hospital released a statement saying, “South Nassau has already implemented a hospital-wide policy that bans the use of insulin pens and permits only the use of single-patient-use vials to administer prescribed insulin treatments to patients.”
The full statement released by the hospital: “Working closely with the New York State Department of Health, South Nassau is voluntarily notifying a specific group of patients that may have received insulin from an insulin pen reservoir (not the pen’s single-use disposable needle) that may have been used with more than one patient. The risk of infection from this is extremely low, nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, the hospital is recommending that patients receiving the notification be tested for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. While the testing is voluntary, it is recommended. To facilitate the process, the hospital is offering the patients free and confidential blood testing services. It has established a dedicated toll-free telephone number that the patients may call to schedule a blood test within 60 days after receiving the letter. South Nassau has already implemented a hospital-wide policy that bans the use of insulin pens and permits only the use of single-patient-use vials to administer prescribed insulin treatments to patients.”